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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

September, 2004

Don't Tread On Me
By Edward W. Miller


 

 

"If there is one lesson Israel can impart to the Americans                           
it is that every occupation is appalling; that it tramples
the occupied and corrupts the occupier."
Editor: Haaretz (Israeli newspaper)

   "Don't tread on me" was the message on that gauntlet flung down to the US and Israel by Osama Ben Laden in his 1998 interview with John Miller (Assoc. Press.), and repeated several times since in video and press submissions. "Don't tread on me" was the message in the bombing of US Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983, in the bombing of two Marine barracks in Saudi Arabia in 1993, in the US Trade Center bombing in 1993, the US Embassy bombings in Tanzania and in Kenya August 7th, 1998, the hole blown in the USS Cole, the Twin Towers and Pentagon explosions. How many American lives will be lost before Washington realizes we can no longer trample upon the feelings of a 1.6 billion Muslim peoples?
   Many Americans are puzzled by the angry responses of most Iraqis to the US occupation, having forgotten their forefather's experiences under the colonial yoke of Britain's George III. Americans also fail to realize those repeated violent warnings from the Muslim world also represent the resurgence of a deep distrust of the West, a distrust generated by colonial incursions into Muslim countries beginning as far back as 1779 when the British East India Company, backed by British military, first established control over Kuwait. Nobody in Washington seems to have taken a look at the history books.
   Back in WW I Britain and France, fighting Germany and its allies, also faced off with Turkey and other remnants of the Ottoman Empire in the Mideast. Iraq's largely Shiite population though oppressed by the Ottoman occupation, when the British began invading their country in 1915 at first joined with the Turks against the Brits. The British India Army encouraged by their military success in Iraq's' southern city, Basrah, advanced north towards Baghdad, only to be stopped, besieged and then crushed by the combined Ottoman forces at Kut Al-Amara. Some 3,000 Indian troops were taken prisoner.
   The next year a new British offensive was launched, but by this time, following a series of thoughtless political and military acts by the retreating Turks against Iraq's Shiite population, which acts included multiple, arrests and executions, the Shiites, encouraged by their religious leaders, switched sides to join the British invaders. (larouchpub.com/2003)* and on March 11th, 1917 British forces under General Frederick Maude, captured Baghdad as the Turks, under Kalil Pasha, withdrew rather than defend the city. Maude immediately promised Iraqis to "liberate them from Ottoman tyranny" adding eventual "democracy and independence."
   A democratic Mideast however, was not the intent of the British who were quietly plotting along with the French and Czarist Russia to divide up the region in the secret 1916 Sykes-Picot-Sazanov Treaty. The name Sergei Sazanov, Russia's foreign minister, along with the Czar's Mideast dreams was erased from the Treaty after the Bolsheviks, sorting through Sazanov's office during their Revolution, found copies of those treasonous papers. 
   In that Sykes-Picot Treaty, Britain, would grab what is now Palestine, Jordan, Iraq and part of Egypt, while France was to occupy both Syria and Lebanon. Our President Wilson was secretly tendered a copy of the Sykes-Pico Papers, with instructions to keep them secret. The Arab peoples have not forgotten this political duplicity.
   The occupation continued, and it became apparent to the Iraqis that the British intended to maintain colonial control. In March, 1917  Shia Muslim leaders in the Holy City of Najaf initiated a limited uprising, which revolt was "swiftly and brutally crushed by the British army, which surrounded the City and bombed one major quarter of it." *(ibid) ( This is the same Najaf where today Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadra and his militia are holding out against US Marines.)
   Early in 1920 political groups in Baghdad and Kaballa began to spring up as Shiites with Sunnis joined forces against the occupier. * (ibid ) At first efforts were made by the Iraqis to deal peacefully with the British. who had already delayed their promised elections.  By early June , however, the Brits began mass arrests in southern Iraqi towns, laying siege to Karbala and arresting religious leaders. On June 29th, 1920 Shiite leader, Al-Shiraz declaredÉ" It is the duty of all Iraqis to call for their rights. While they do that they should make sure that security and peace are preserved. but they can resort to defensive force if the British refuse to comply with their demands." In July the first attack on a British convoy took place in Al-Diwaniya.
   Meanwhile in Italy, on April 20th 1920, the League of Nations, meeting in San Ramo was deciding the fate of the Ottoman Empire and Mideast peoples. The League accepted with few modifications the Sykes-Picot reorganization of the region. Our Congress had already voted to keep the US out of the League.
    During 1920 insurgency spread throughout Iraq, eventually involving Kurds in the north. Armed with only rifles,  British garrisons were attacked, rail lines and bridges destroyed and high-ranking British officers assassinated. The British responded with brutal force on the villages, bombing at will. Winston Churchill, Britain's Minister of War and Air "believed that the country could be cheaply policed by aircraft armed with gas bombs, supported by as few as 4,000 British and 10,000 Indian troops." (book by David Omissi) The uprising lasted four months during which 10,000 Iraqis and 450 British were killed. The British suffered 2000 casualties.
   Just as British reporter Robert Fisk comments on the deficiencies in our media's ongoing coverage on Iraq, so in London's Sunday Times back on August 22nd 1920, T.E. Lawrence reported:
  "The people of England have been lead in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honor. They have been tricked into a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiques are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and insufficient than the public knowsÉ We are today not far from a disaster."
   The 1920 revolt derailed British plans for Iraq. The Brits continued to rule but indirectly through the Hashemite King Faisal and his successors. In 1962 the CIA organized a coup, killing thousands of Iraqi "communists." The Bathist Party took over and eventually, one of their own, Saddam Hussein rose to power.
   Today, Washington under Bush, Jr. stumbles along like the British in the 1920's with increasing threats of terrorism and no clear goals in sight. Washington should declare: "Victory", remove our armies from both Afghanistan and Iraq, and take Sharon and his marauding Zionazis off our payroll. It will matter little how Congress and the 9/11 Commission rearrange the CIA, FBI and Homeland Security unless we stop treading on the Muslim peoples and sowing the dragon's teeth of violent revenge.

*In 1776 Colonel Christopher Gadsden submitted a copy of a bright yellow flag with coiled rattlesnake and the words: DON'T TREAD ON ME to the provincial congress in South Carolina. Commodore Esek Hopkins commander of the new Continental Fleet carried that flag when his ships put to sea that same year and succeeded in capturing large stores of cannons and military supplies from the British in the Bahamas. Our nascent Continental Marine Corps began painting the design on their drums. (Google.com)

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